They lay it out for you right there in the name: Pretty girls, with their sneaky charm and eyelash-batting, boast an ever-growing score card of broken hearts, leaving their suitors suited and 6 feet under. The boys know the chaos that lies hidden beneath those big brown eyes, but a pretty girl is a pretty girl, and so they keep on like Sisyphus, convinced that this time it will be different. These are complex matters to describe, but if you were to bottle whatever universal trickery is at the core of a pretty girl, you'd get the music that PGMG has committed to tape with its latest collection of songs, The New Romance.
Thanks in part to the creative production of Phil Ek (who produced some of indie rock's most famous recordings for Modest Mouse and Built to Spill, among others), what was formerly your traditional brand of Fugazi-influenced angry guitars and busy drums now contains left-field segues of piano and organ texture, pockets of funky drum-traversing, and dynamics that take whole songs to build. But production technique can't take all of the credit. Singer Andrea Zollo's vocal melodies show a diversity lacking from many indie rock bands'. Sure, she still crowds the record with dissonant girl-punk screams and croons, but in between these vocal bursts are mature, major-key phrases that exemplify a solid foundation of pop knowledge. It's the juxtaposition here of dissonance and beauty that mimics the true nature of a pretty girl.
While the Seattle quintet's new record offers an ample dose of the riff-heavy emoting heard on 2002's Good Health, the group's songwriting skills have clearly improved. PGMG has figured out how to be honest about its emotion without coming off as cheesy or confessional. In the band's hands, we are all forced to submit to The New Romance, the one where the girls and graves are all jumbled into one cohesive, exposed spectrum of love, sex, death, and neurosis.